8 Red Twilight Worldwalkers Chapter 8
David awakens, he has clearly been drugged but his constitution is more than enough to allow him to force himself awake prematurely. He snarls smelling demon blood in the air, turning slightly he spots a fox demon standing and reading from a clipboard nearby. He knows what this beast is 'Kitsuna' is what they call themselves, 'divine bounty-hunter' is what they claim to be. This one has a split tail, but only two tails, it is young, week, barely old enough to know the pleasures of flesh. David exclaims his condition, he has been stripped of his guns and his coat, his neckless is missing too, he still has his chaps and his boots. He can take this demon, but it is going to have to be the messy way.
David reaches out with his senses, he can feel his Demon Edge is locked in a box only a few dozen feet away, he can call to it, but it will cost both time and energy, he will take out the fox first then get his sword and deal with whatever comes next.
Jazzman pretends to sleep; he waits for the fox to come in close. Once he does Jazzman reaches out to grab him by the wrist with one then jumps to his feet, he spins the fox boy around pinning the fox to his chest, he slides one hand under his chin and rest the other on the back of his head. Kitsuna are hard to kill, brake there bones and they just keep coming, twist their head off on the other hand and they bleed out like anyone else.
Jazzman starts to twist, but the fox it seems has accesses to magic that it can call on with only a thought, the fox assumes a spectral for to pass through Jazzman. it cant seem to hold the ghostly form and becomes corporeal again quickly. The fox yells a single word, "Celverant!"
Without warning the room starts to fill with oversized suits of Asian armor. They attack David, the first in the room grabs David from behind pinning his arms to his body, Jazzman drops his weight down into horse stance and thrust back with two elbow strikes to brake the grip, he cats steps past the armor and throws a hammer-fist into its abdomen and a rising elbow to the chin to throw it backwards.
A second brings both arms in to wrap around Jazzman's head to crush him, Jazzman meats him part way with a par of racking eye strike fallowed by an elbow drive and a back kick as he steps out to make distances in preparation for his next attacker. As Jazzman pivots out from his back kick he brings up both arms for a double inwards block for a punch that he spots coming in. he catches the arm of his third attacker, he grips it by the arm and dips his waight on it to force him to turn his back, Jazzman throws the third armor into the other two as he assumes tactical positioning forcing them all onto one side of the room.
With a moment to breath Jazzman holds one arm off to his side and focuses on his sword. Locked in its box the handle on the Demon Edge reeves, the demon edge produces an explosive powder and blows apart the box it is in, the blade then comes to life and flies to the aid of its owner, the sword cuts down one of the armors on its path to join with its owner.
Armors continue to fluid the room, Jazzman fights boldly, crushing dozens of Celverant's bodies, but there can be no victory in these close quarters. Celverant continues to throw his bodies at Jazzman till there is no room left to evade. Celverant overpowers Jazzman by sheer numbers pulling him to the ground and pounding him into submission.
"I am the Architect of Peace, your resistances is futile."
Jazzman is carried to a large room with a view of the plains near the lake, he is thrown into a lavish looking hotel room. Milli is resting on a bed near the center of the room with a day robe on reading a book when Jazzman hit the ground, she looks up momentarily to address him "Did you pick a fight with the metal faced bloke also?" Milli is stretched out showing her true size and form. With her body largely restored and in a relaxed position Milli's outer exquisiteness is in full view. Her hair a frosty brown her eyes soft and youthful.
Jazzman pushes himself up to kneeling and holds his head. The assault was never meant to do lasting damage but an ass whooping is an ass whooping in any form. Jazzman growls jumping to his feet, he runs at the door and is suddenly stopped by an unseen force falling backwards as if hitting a wall full throttle.
Celverant points to a ring of ruin stones painted onto the ceiling "typical devilkin behaver, you are passionate but reckless. Your body is powerful but you are sensitive to magic of the sol wavelength. This room is yours to do with as you like. You will not leave it without my consent." Celverant closes the door to the room disappearing from view.
The decadences of the room is high, the floors are a polished red wood, the windows are twenty feet tall showing off a wonderfully manicured yard, small trees, a rock garden and a pond. The room has split floors, the main floor set up for entertaining company it seems, the second floor has four bedrooms and two baths.
Jazzman looks to Milli acknowledging her inquiry "yeah."
Milli rules onto her side and pulls one leg up to her chest stretching 'how did that go for you?"
Jazzman walks around the room fallowing the ceiling examining the ruin stones "not too well all things considered. Do you have any idea what the hell is going on here?"
"I kand'a hoped that you could tell me. It was your friend that sent us here Devil."
"you could call me David if you like." Jazzman pulls a chair up to one wall and reaches up to touch one of the ruins, he jumps back with a yelp as the stone shocks him "can you move these stone?"
Milli shacks her head and pulls open her robe to show off a metal plate fused to her collarbone "no can do, I have been fitted with a shock collar. I'll tell you thou this place has tec that give me penis envy. Joe would kill to get a look at some of this stuff. Oh and Milli by the way."
Jazzman looks to Milli inquisitively "what sort of tec?"
Milli points "Over there next to the door that black glass looking thing. Stand next to it and say 'Ali I'm hungry' and it will offer to 'cook' for you?"
Jazzman tips his head "why the air quotes on that?"
"well it's not like the food is made so much as it just sort'a shows up." Milli rolls onto her stomach and sticks her tail out, her lags roll up onto her back and her arms fold under her chest as she set her book on the ground in front of herself. "Also metal face out there has been keeping some pretty funky records on us."
Jazzman now more than just a little interested by Milli approaches her "Funky?"
"yeah, that is what I have been reading." She slides over the electronic book. "Personnel records, seriously intense shit, vitals, performances records, potential predictions. It seems there are endless pages describing both you and me, and countless others. There is also a simplified mode where it brakes down people into just a hand full of numeric values." As Milli talks Jazzman tries to read up on what he is being shown "S.T.R. seems to be physical power, ability to fight in hand to hand combat, accumulated knowledge of body mechanics ranges fall from 3 to 25, 9 is labeled as average for humanoids 15+ seems to have a disclamer reading minimum to absorbed Ki force, D.E.X. covers ability to run and jump, nimbleness, ability to catch and throw objects and probability of dodging mala attacks same ranges, C.O.N. is resistances to physical damage, parasites, poisons and probability of surviving exposure to radiation and high voltage electrical currents. I.N.T. influnince over the elemental spectrum of mana and deductive skills as well as resistance to said mana. W.I.S. influninces over the psionic spectrum of mana and one's memory as well as academic inclination as well as resistance to said mana C.H.A percentage changes of anticipating or manipulating others and communication skills. The last number H.P.A. is maximum damage that can be inflicted on one's body before natural healing fails."
Jazzman looks over the records "why would you need some of this info?"
"looking for the most efficient way to exterminate someone." Milli answers without a second thought.
Jazzman looks over to Milli with a sideways smile "looks like my states are higher then yours."
Lances finds his way out of his room. He recollects his clothing and is given free rein to walk around. The Steel Rose is a strange unearthly place to Lances. The people are not people, they are monster with a thin vale of humanity, the shapes and colors of objects around him are recognizable, but a poor replica of things that he know.
He starts with a walk around the outside of the main building, this places, everything seems wrong, everything puts him on edge, this world, it is not his world. Lances stops at the lake briefly, he reaches down to run his hands through the unnaturally clean water, Lances has be from sea to sea, he has crossed oceans, no water anywhere looks like this, so clear, so wet, this water has no skin making it feel like oil running between his fingers. The grass is a yellow green, the sent in the air is that of a preindustrial prairie, a smell almost as if from his childhood. This world is to perfect to be real.
After walking for almost half an hour in relative silence Lances I drown next to a museum. The structure is forged of a stone that look like marble, there are two stone cats watching the twenty-foot-tall door at the top of thirty steps twelve feet long and two feet tall each. The face of the museum is lined with forty-five-foot-tall obelisk made of white pearl like stone, there is writing on the overhang in angel script. Lances translates as he walks up the steps "those that seek out wisdom enter."
Tightly Lances squeezes his satchel between his fingers as he slides past the door. The room is cold, the walls are a gold tented wood the halls fifteen feet wide, there is no greater to welcome him in, only two slightly smaller doors and two sets of stairwells leading to a higher tier of the structures, Lances whisper to himself as he walks. "rest your left side to the wall and you will never walk the same ground twice."
The artwork adorning the walls seem to be in large photography, people and places that are both ghastly familiar and grimly unfamiliar to Lances. Lances has no way of knowing how long he has been walking the halls of the museum before voices catch his attention. Lances rest his back to the wall and fallows the chatter. He gets to the corner nearest to the sounds that drew his ear, he stands in wait.
The first voices is a deep echoing voices with a seductive undertone to its hollowness. "You are not the one called Syphen."
The second voice sounds more human, and more conformational. "you may call me Jloose (pronounced jealous)"
"and why would you, Jloose, approach a god of blood so boldly?" the first voice becomes slightly angered.
"I am a man that wheels and deals in the market of knowledge, that being as it is I wish to know what a so-called blood god wants with the man from a world passed?"
"my interest in Syphen is of no interest to you dealer of information."
"monsters like you feed of blood, death, and suffering do you not? So then it seems to me that it is not in your interest that you would seek out a man or a place so isolated. You are nothing more than a flag bearer. Who is really looking for Rhoda?"
"your accusation of my impotence is becoming most intolerable!"
"Keep your voice down vampire. We wouldn't want to get Celverant involved in our decoction, would we?"
Lances has heard all he needs to hear. One hand reaches into Lances' coat, his fingers find the hilt of his sliver dirk, his heartrate picks up has he anticipates his next move. Lances has found his way into another demon's nest, he must sanctify this place. Be it with water or fire Lances feels the compulsion to save souls.
Has the knife starts to find its way from its sheath a pair of arms wrap around Lances. A quick grunt leaves Lances' chest before he can process what has just happened. A small balding man dressed like a carnival performer from Sicily has grabbed Lances and is mumbling "Thank creation. Another man from Delta universe. It has been years since I have seen someone else from my planet" he has a vagally French accent mongreled with Italian.
Lances drops his knife and can find no words to speck resorting to hugging the stranger in return. After a short time the stranger lets go of Lances stepping back to interduces himself. "I'm sorry, I got excited. Let me interduces us." He holds his arms out and from the puffy sleeves of his shirt emerge six squirrels, he starts naming them as they appear "we are; Jennifer, Jessy, Lucina, Ben, Jeff, Tom, and I am Magic Mike Murphy, together we are Magic Mike and the Tall Tails."
Lances looks over the group "you are performers? Acrobats?"
Mike shacks his head "Don't you know me? In 1776 we were the biggest musical act across the three kingdoms."
Lances tips his head and squints "1776?"
Mike jumps back slightly concerned by the reaction "why did you act that way? What year is it now back home?"
"when I left it was October of 2001."
"Ive been away for more than two hundred years?" Mike looks to the squirrel he called Jessy "well that means you are now the oldest rodent in history." He looks perplexed "I had no idea I had been away for so long."
Lances swoops down to grab his knife form the ground. "If you will pardon me for only a moment…" Lances swings around the next corner knife in hand ready to perform his holy work only to find that the hallway is clear of any life. His eyes shoot left then right as he jumps side to side swinging his blade in the air searching for the vampires.
Mike rounds the corn looking for whatever Lances is searching for. The squirrel named Luciana speak up "yeah. That seems to happen around here a lot. Walking the halls of the Steel Rose is just plain inefficient so most people who can choose to instead call on limited teleportation spells to move around. After all there are five moons to choose from and all of them are similar in size and scope to this one."
Lances eyes widen as he lowers his knife to his side, he hides the blade up his sleeve and looks over to Magic Mike and the Tall Tails "the talk?"
Mike nods "they also play interments: Jennifer plays violin, Jessy viola, Lucina cello, Ben plays piano, Jeff does drums, Tom can play both a flout and a trombone and I do guitar both base and rhythm. I had a pigeon that played xylophone but she left to start a solo job."
Lances rubs one hand through his beard "Well I think I might need a guide to help me find my way around." Lances leans into the squirrel Lucina "could I interest you in the job?"
Lucina brings her paws up to her cheeks looking embarrassed at being addressed directly "so long as Mike and the other are in Okay." After a short hushed discussion Lucina jumps up onto Lances' chest and gets up noise to noise with him. She touches her noise to his then nods "yeah. We will help out."
With the help of the Tall Tails Lances is shown the court house, the library, the teleportation pad, the gathering hall and the barracks. Mike explains that there are other buildings but they can only be accessed with Celverant's permission.
As their conversation goes on the lot of them walk past the courthouse once more. Lances attintoin is drawn by a large group approaching, one person in the group unparticular, Magdalen St. Frances.
Lances looks back to Mike. "Im sorry, what where you just saying?"
"sitting in on court hearings is pretty much how we pay for our rooms around here. The ship gives us anything we need and all we need to do deliberate with Celverant on how to 'spread peace' as he puts it."
Lances nods. "I think I would like to do my part. Can you get me in on whatever they are talking about?" Lances points to Magdalen.
The squirrel Ben looks back and fourth "they are part of that land dispute on Glyph. We are already in on that."
Mike digs around for his pocket watch. "is it time already? By time flies some days. Yes of course Lances, lets go."
The grand court room is at the center of the cathedral, it is the largest and most important room on the Steel Rose. The room is ovular is shape with bleachers lining the room, there is seeting for a thousand or more. Rapping around the ceiling there are a hundred or more statues creating a mural, on 'side' of the room is marked by fifty man dressed like roman hero's the other by monsters all having turned to face a blind queen wrapped in laurel flowers, all the statues seem to be shouting at the blind queen pleading with her on the behalf of a kneeling man on the opposing side, the kneeling man has one bird wing growing out his back and one bat wing, on the concaved celling is painted a skyline orange fading to blue a setting sun marking the south and a rising moon marking the north, the blind queen marking the west and the kneeling man the east.
At the heart of the room sits the judge's throne on which Celverant is perched. As the trial begins his throne alone is illuminated. Celverant addresses the unseen mass. "this is day four of the Trial for ownership of the territory called Glyph and for the adding of planet number 24-64-10 into galactic and trans-dimensional trade. I Celverant, the architect of peace will continue to be the lead emissary." A second light turns on to reveal the stenographer's desk and a blue cloaked man sitting at it "Today to keep minuets I have invited Jloose. Should anyone see reason why Jloose should not keep minutes please speak now." Celverant waits a few moments before continuing "Seeing nun I will continue. During yesterday's meeting, there was some difficulty in translating between some of the races present. I will address this first."
"for purposes of this debate this court defines 'peace' as a state of being in which prosperity is increased and suffering is decreased for the largest applicable denomination of life. In the eyes of those sitting in on today's discussion the words: realm, plane, dominion, and dimension will all be used interchangeable. The word Worldwalker will be used to describe any person that has the power to move between worlds using para natural or super natural powers without the aid of secondary technologies. The word Planshifter will be used to describe someone with the same power but requires an amplifier or technological enhancement.
"In the eyes of this courthouse the words Race and Species are interchangeable. As well as are the words: House, Provinces, Country, City, State, and Land. Do to the cultural speech patterns of both Methuselah, and Glyph the fallowing Prefixes will be used during today discussion; Earl, Lord, Lady, Barron, Baroness, Count, Countess, Sister, Brother, Cardinal, Father, and Elder. To this court these titles are pleasantries and will be treated identically to sir or madam, no one voice carries more weight than any other in my courthouse. By request of Methuselah all clocks and timestamps in the courthouse have been set to reflect time as it appears on planet 24-64-10. If all these conditions are understood we will continue to the next order of business." There is a momentary delay as notes are taken.
"it is the understanding of all in attendances that the ownership of planet 24-64-10 is currently shared by four humanoid races. As such for these discussions to begging resuscitative of these races needed to be found and invited here to partake in this meeting. To meet this requirement, I now interduce to you; from Kami, a race that identifies themselves as Kitsuna, Hons, Ryon, and Nine"
lights across from Celverant light up showing three individuals who have seemingly tack grate pain to mask themselves, the three have few visible traits, all three have hidden their faces with stone mask with rectangular eye sockets cut out, covered their hare with broadbrimmed straw caps and hidden their bodies with cloaks made of layers over layers of pine needles, only on close inspection can there golden white fur be seen on their four clawed paws, they would be perfectly identical if not for one trait which cannot be hidden so easily long bushy fox tails, white with yellow tips, one of them has three tails, the next has four and between them the last has eight wrapping around its back like a halo.
"let it be noted that Kami has suggested that regardless of the ruling on the tarator of Glyph and who gains ownership of the grater body of the land that discussion of them and their tribe as well as the five ancestral berthing rounds that they call 'Godhand Mountains' be considered individually hereafter"
A lone light at Celverant's 1:oclk lights up to reveal a women dressed in gypsy like dancing attire, her hear is black with blue highlights, her eyes a shimmering blind dead white, her skin gray her lips drowned blue, her fingertips drip with what seems to be blue black ink and her nails filed to razers.
"from the territory of Nossghuol I interduce Lady Fiona Vesstle, let the record reflect it was Vesstle that requested these negotiations, and in spite of the idea that Vesstle has had relationships with more than a hand full of my councilors that she speaks on behalf of Nossghuol and whatever relations she has had or has not had are irrelevant to these preceding. Nossghuol identify themselves as symbiotic, symbiological, semi humans, their exact classification is currently under debate via or morphological department."
A light triggers at Celverant's 3:oclk revealing a larger table with a number of people set at it, many dressed in vibrant colors, the cut and patterns on their elaborate dress reflect patterns that might have appeared in pre-Victorian England romanticized, low cut callers, high cut dresses, tight, mostly transparent undergarments. Their skin is flawless, their features idealized, sharp ears sharp jawlines, thin deep eyes.
"Next I interduce the to you the Methuselah. The Methuselah identify themselves as Sylphs. Starting from the right and moving left we have: Countess Estargo also known as Bethany Vergil of the house of Estargo, Earl Crystleus also known as Edom Dante Magnia, Baron Maxwell Abram who also calls himself Count Abrem, Lady Elles Nightingale also called the Bronze Queen, and lastly Dean Grimm the king of Grimm." Dean Grimm stands out sitting next to the Methuselah as he clearly lacks their refined futures, he looks older and scarred, he also has a tattoo on his left arm which he leaves exposed a bent cross and a half sun overlapping a star.
The lights turn on at Celverant's 9:ockl reveling Magdalen St. Frances and her crew, out side of her and two others dressed in complicated red robes and one young girl dressed in a white habit the rest of her group are all dressed in catholic priest attire that seems to have been modified for military usage, armored patches added and holsters for knifes and axes or guns cut into the holy garments. The same bent cross on Dean's arm is worn as a holy symbol on all the Glyph. But one of them looks more Methuselah then the other
"the Glyph identify themselves as human. The Glyph in attendances today are from right to left; Sitting Profit Arthur St. Frances, Arch Cardinal Magdalen St. Frances, Arch Cardinal Merlin St. Frances, Father Able Nightingale, Brother Tiberius Joy, Sister Elyssa Joy, Brother Dale Headsman, Brother Jo, and Sister Hellen Easter." Sister Easter is the only one of the group dressed in white and is by far the youngest of the group, the three St. Frances's are all dressed in red but much to anyone's surprise it seem the one with the most prestigious title can't be much more than a year or two older than Easter.
"As was discovered during out last meeting please let it be known that the word 'Vampire' is recognized as a racist slur by the Methuselah and even if at one point during there shared history it was a reasonable acoret description of the Methuselah's habits, the crimes that where committed by the last generation is not what is on trial today and there for usage of such words when other words might be more appropriate will not be permitted."
One final set of lights light up revealing a ring-shaped table that encloses the other tables is revealed. "Lastly allow me to interduce my fellow adjudicators. Here to help me review and consider the points of view of all in attendances, in clockwise order, I interduce; Cinder, daughter of Vishnu, she speaks for the realm Ultereal…" Cinder is a human looking woman with skin that looks like wood and fire for hair, flams drip from her mouth when she speaks and from her eyes with she blinks, globs of red hot steel seem to hold her joints together, she conceals herself within a duster style hat and jacket reminiscent to pre-industrial American style.
"…Sorrion Hunt, speaks on behalf of Jango Relm…" Sorrion looks like something trapped in-between a human a chimp and a gruella, he is covered in gold red fur, Dressed in armor that looks to be forged from snake skin and is accompanied by a winged anaconda tide around his body that he glances at intently in such a way that could be interpreted as provocatively.
"…Su-a-hoon, who speaks for Evareal…" Su-a-hoon can only be described as a gryphon with chaeta spots on her hind quarters, falcon like wings and in eagle head, she has been outfitted with broderie of Roman influences.
"… Arwen Bloodsage will speak for Negga realm…" this is a white skinned man with black lips, his body is shaved and waxed to perfect smoothness, his skin is a tapestry of Neolithic art, he dresses in nothing more than silk feulds tide around his waist.
"… Xia Li, will speak of Kunny realm…" Xia is best described as an albino rat sized up to human scale given Ming dynasty surf attar to cover herself.
"… Dash Prismknight, will represent the realm called Core…" Dash is an Alacorn, a winged horse with a silver unicorn, he has a rainbow of feather running down his wings and a brilliant white coat, he covers his face with a mirror mask.
"… Krane, they will speak for Zzuragg…" Krane's nature is clear on close inspection, she wears the skin of a human women, a honey like fluid runs from her pours to keep her skin moist and tender, where hear should be a coat of insectoid feelers run down her back, her skin is a dying green, her lips orange with venom, her eye are like holes in rubber where under two sets of six segmented kaleidoscope eyes can be seen, when she takes a breath within her mouth is visible a second mouth with oscillating teeth, she smells like fresh cooked ham. She is not a person; she is five terminates within a human animatronic.
"…Syphen, is here on the behalf of the world formally called Rhoda…" Syphen is in a constant state of shifting forms, Syphen by its nature needs to be of a shape that those around it would find sexually appealing, in an event like this where there is no one shape that is universally exemptible it finds itself stuck in-between many shapes all at once having bits and paces of every-ones idealized partner featured.
"…From Paradess we have Harm, From Delta we have Magic Mike and the Tall Tales. From Red Twilight Lances Jacob, and lastly from Aquse Keyor…" Keyor is the fish like women that had been spying on Charlie and Celverant.
"to make sure everyone understand the rules of this debate I remind everyone, you may address your opponents with your statements or the judges, your objective is to demenstrat to us why you are fit to govern your world or why your opponents are not. Everyone may speak as much and often as they like but everyone must speak before a verdict can be reached. After everyone has spoken there peace my judges and I will retier to review the information presented. These percedings will go on till all parties are satisfied."
Dale Headsmen is the first to stand up "Judges, I wanta' talk. I already slept through two days of this shit, my ass hurts and I would rather get back to dying on a battlefield then sit though another day of this."
Celverant waves Dale on "Very well. Who would you like to address?"
Dale is a crowd man, his hear is greasy, his hands dirty, the sleeves are ripped on his robe and he has a chain of teeth he proudly displays around his neck, anyone within arm's reach could almost taste the blood on his coat and the home-brewed liquor on his breath. Dale points hard at Earl Crystlus "I want to talk to that maggot."
The Methuselah are a slow growing race. By their own admittances they have a life expectancy of 900 years with strange growth spurts, for the first 9ish years of their life they are indistinguishable from human. But then their growth slows dramatically almost never showing sexual characteristics till before 300 years of age and not having fully developed features till 600 for this alone many think them immortal, and many appear to by children for lifetimes assuming wealth and fame in this eternally young state as it seem.
Dante, lord of his own land look to be hardly twelve in the eyes of most. Dante tries to look calm and collected in the face of the hunter that stands before him but it is clear he is intimidated by the mountain man that is Dale Headsman "How may I be of service to you Brother Headsman?"
Dale snorts "Can the pleasantries" Dale steps around the table approaching the Methuselah, mid stride he brings one foot up and pulls a hunting knife from a sling tide to his lag "I can end this discussion right her right now." He flips the knife squeezing the blade in his fist "you sit there with your pretty close, with that fake smile. You pretty up good. Some whisky and a face paint and you look almost human." Dale grips the knife's handle in his offhand "you tell us you are no face eating shit licking vampire. I can show the court you are." A mighty tug and Dale rips open the skin on his hand spraying blood half across the tables. Shock and gasp thickens the air.